Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Being poor IS all it's cracked up to be?

Originally posted to Xanga on November 28, 2007

Looking at his disciples, [Jesus] said:
"Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God." (Luke 6:20)

For all my extensive Sunday schooling, and lesson after lesson on important Bible stories, apparently I had missed The Beatitudes, until last Sunday. Our youth minister was going on about something or other, but he mentioned in passing the specific blessings God has set aside for certain kinds of people. It was such a novel idea for me, almost akin to the concept of natural rights. God has special blessings for special groups of people. Blessed are those who mourn, blessed are the meek, et cetera. And one such blessing is on the poor.

We have a long commute up to classes we take in Massachusetts, and we like to redeem the time by listening to audiobooks or lectures, et cetera. This week we were in a rush, so I grabbed 'Your Story Hour: George Muller' for us to listen to. (Sadly, I think I will never get Jeremy Wolf's lecture series done.) If you're not familiar with the story of George Muller (trust me, you're not. I've heard his name a dozen times, and never cared who he was. Why should you?) he was a German who served the orphans in London. But get this -- he had no source of income, and never asked for money. He lived day by day on the brink of poverty and, by faith, trusted God to bring him money and food when he needed it.

It's a combination of these two thoughts that has made me want to be poor. I know, I must not have had my Wheaties this morning. The thought of [other people's] poverty has always wrenched my heart strings, but after thinking about this more, I really feel more optimistic about global poverty. (Not that I know what it's like to be poor. I mean, money's always been a bit tight in our house, but even the poorest American is wealthy compared to victims of the caste system in India or those displaced in Beijing.) Why did I ever think it was hopeless? Why did I think the words 'wretched' and 'poor' in the same sentence? I was discriminating against the poor without even realizing it. And yet Jesus has called them blessed!

There's one aspect of Christmas that makes me sick deep in my stomach. And it's not the commercialism. Santa, Rudolph, and the Keebler elves are a little annoying, yes, but I'm not going to go troll on everyone and rant about the true meaning of Christmas. Linus' quiet message does that nicely. No, rather it's the concept of gifts that makes me sad. People mean well, and it's a nice gesture, but everyone already has so much stuff. I got a Macbook for my birthday, and I love it -- it's amazing. But now I need more stuff. I need a protective case, I need an iSkin keyboard protector, I need iKlean cleaning solution. Sooner or later we're all going to drown in our massive amount of stuff! And no matter how much we tell ourselves we need our stuff (and we very well might 'need' it), the poor are blessed!

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